Whether you're travelling to the far reaches of the world or just taking a quick flight over the water to Western Europe, travel insurance can be incredibly important. It can help protect you from huge bills should you find yourself needing medical attention or even if your bags get lost en route.
Not only can you receive monetary reimbursement for these instances and many others, you may find yourself a little more relaxed on your travels, knowing that you have some financial security.
However, with the realities of Brexit looming, many avid travellers may be wondering how it will affect their travels, and more specifically, how it will affect travel insurance.
At present, British travellers are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is free, and you can apply for it online, but only till December 31st 2020. If you become unwell or are injured whilst travelling in Europe, this card will entitle you to the same level of care received by native citizens. This does not mean, however, that you will be entitled to free healthcare as there are some charges in many EU countries for medical treatment.
This is why travel insurance is important. If you are only carrying an EHIC, you may not have to pay as much as you would without one, but you are still likely to be faced with charges. The EHIC remains valid until the end of the transition period on the 31st December 2020.
There are some non-EU countries with which we have reciprocal health insurance deals, including Australia and New Zealand. These deals won't be affected when we leave the European Union, so travellers to these countries can continue to utilise the health insurance deals which are already in place. However, these reciprocal arrangements do not always provide cover for pre-existing medical conditions or treatment that does not require prompt attention and these countries encourage travellers to hold comprehensive travel insurance.
The UK left the European Union on 31st January 2020 and entered an 11-month transition period, which is due to end on 31st December 2020. After this date, the EHIC will no longer be valid for most UK citizens, and while the EHIC covers you for pre-existing medical conditions, a standard travel insurance policy may not. So, it's important to get a comprehensive travel insurance policy with cover for any pre-existing medical conditions you have.
It still seems unlikely that there would be any dramatic changes to the way travel insurance works, even after Brexit. Depending on the kind of deal the UK emerges with, it is possible that there may be a rise in prices, but nothing is certain yet.
It may in fact be possible that both the UK and the EU wish to maintain reciprocal health insurance policies as it benefits both parties. This could mean very little changes to your travel insurance policies.
The government advises you to renew your passport earlier if you're planning to travel to Europe from January 2021. On the day of travel, your passport must:
- Have at least 6 months left before your passport expires
- Be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left before it expires)
If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and some non-EU countries in Europe such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
When entering other countries, you may have to show your return or onward ticket, and prove you have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay. You may also need to queue separately from EU, EEA and Swiss passengers when queuing for border control.
If you are going abroad as a tourist, (so not for work or to live), you will not need a visa for short trips to an EU member country or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You'll be able to stay for up to 90 days.
UK nationals may have noticed if they have travelled to Europe recently that the pound is not going quite as far as it did before. This is due to a weakened pound which means that exchange rates are less favourable now, with the gap between the pound and the euro closing. This may make some package holidays a little more expensive as well as travellers finding that they may be spending a little more money whilst they are abroad.
Another area that may be subject to change is the level of free movement UK nationals currently enjoy within Europe. Again, this is something that we cannot be sure of until negotiations have been settled, however, it is possible that we may face a slightly different process when travelling within Europe.
It seems rather unlikely that UK citizens would be required to apply for full visas, but it may not be quite as quick and simple as the process currently is, with the possibility that the process for American and Australian citizens would be adopted. This involves registering details and travel intentions online.
While negotiations continue, it is difficult to predict all the changes that may or may not happen regarding travel within Europe. However, regardless of the changes, travel insurance will continue to be an essential part of travelling.
At Compare Cover, you can compare travel insurance to help you find the most suitable cover for you. If you have any questions, we have a number of travel insurance guides that may be able to answer your queries.
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